SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted Friday that the company’s Starlink satellite internet network would come out of its open beta phase next month. That’s two months later than the August date Musk gave at Mobile World Congress, when he also said he expected the service to have “possibly over 500,000 users within 12 months.”
The Starlink system calls for a constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites in low-Earth orbits that will beam continuous broadband internet service. A terminal costs $499 and there’s a $99 monthly fee for service. It opened its public beta test in October 2020, and Musk said in August that SpaceX had shipped 100,000 Starlink terminals, which includes a satellite dish and a Wi-Fi router, to users in 14 countries. As the beta ends and more countries are able to get access to Starlink, that 100,000 number is likely to grow, although it’s hard to tell when it might reach the half-million mark that Musk predicted.
Starlink’s internet service is planned to be sold directly to consumers in rural areas around the world, among other customers, and it’s touting 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload speeds. Reviews of the Starlink service so far have been mixed, however.
It’s also worth noting that Musk tends to be extremely optimistic when laying out deadlines for his companies’ product releases, as Tesla customers who waited for that company’s so-called “Full Self Driving” software can attest.